Messed up but made in an artful way, Hounds of Love is easily the most frightening and disturbing horror film you’ll see in 2017. It’s extremely intense and unpleasant, but the good news is:
viewers who make it to the end will be rewarded.
I’m someone who’s watched a lot of horror and thriller-type movies; from The Evil Dead to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie, The Babadook and loads more, I always like seeing what the genre can do next. Watching Hounds of Love is a stomach-turning experience, that’s on par with some of the darkest films out there. Given how tough it is to watch, it’s surprising how much of the events take place off-screen.
It’s set in Perth, Australia and centres on a serial killer couple, Evelyn (Ashleigh Cummings) and John (Stephen Curry), who have taken to driving around their neighbourhood and abducting school girls. Based on two real-life Australian killers, it digs deep into the psychological depths of true crime and it stays with you like a really bad dream.
From the second this film starts, it lets you know that you’re not in for an easy ride. The opening scene is immensely unsettling, with hyper slo-mo shots of teenagers playing netball. It took me a few moments to realise they weren’t standing completely still. It’s an interesting effect from the director Ben Young. Not a bad way to get viewers hooked on a movie.
While we’re introduced to other characters, Vicki is the main focus. We follow her on every step of her horrific ordeal, from the moment she gets lured back to John and Evelyn’s home. She literally walks into trouble and I cannot believe this happened in real-life. What happened to never talk to strangers? Of course, you still feel for her. You hate the agony she experiences while being held captive.
Hounds of Love focuses on the horrors of abduction and the traumas of abuse. Be warned: this movie will shock some people, but I like said, the very explicit stuff happens out of frame, supported by background noises. That’s why it’s so terrifying because the abuse Vicki endures is implied, leaving you with nothing but your imagination.
I applaud every performance. Emma Booth, what a fantastic actress. She puts in an insanely good turn as Vicki, showcasing both vulnerability and strength with ease. Stephen Curry, I’d run a mile if I saw him on the street. He nails it as a psychopathic madman.
And Cummings, in a difficult role is enthralling as Evelyn, who spends most of the film in a grey area. She shows much more humanity than John and forms an interesting dynamic with Vicki, adding a layer of depth not found in most horror-thrillers.
There’s so much dramatic weight that when you flinch, recoil and feel utterly disgusted, you’re pulled in even closer. Not much goes on idea-wise because most of the action takes place inside the couple’s house, but it’s compelling nonetheless and feels real.
This is a great film about horrific stuff. It will be too ‘real’ for some people’s tastes, but for horror fans, it’s unmissable. After you’ve watched it, you’ll be mulling over what you’ve just seen for days. Hounds of Love is a challenge, but the horrors are more profound than the plot suggests.
Written and directed by: Ben Young
Stars: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson.
Distributor: Label Distribution (Australia), Gun Powder & Sky (USA) (Theatrical)
Run Time: 108 min.
What do you think of Hounds of Love? If you haven’t seen it, reckon you could stomach it? Let me know in the comment section!